The wilting southern Lotus
At the national level, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to win the Prime Ministerial race, with senior leaders LK Advani and Narendra Modi making all the right noises. Things down south, however, have gone steadily downhill, with a slew of scams plaguing the lotus' first stint in Karnataka.
As of now, the BJP's dream to extend its sway in the south is all but shattered. Yeddyurappa, the lone BJP stalwart, was expected to make a comeback. However with his arrest, the party's hopes are dashed. The BJP, which claims to be taking on the graft issue head on, cannot allow him to make a reappearance, until and unless he is fully absolved of the charges. At present, Yeddy is neck deep in litigation, being taken to task over his role in the land scam case. The trials may take as many as five years to reach culmination. This means that Yeddy is out of the picture for the next few years. This is quite a blow, considering that Yeddy had given the state-level BJP some hope of holding on to its last vestiges of power.
After establishing its sway in Karnataka, the party harboured plans of extending its dominion to AP and Kerala, using Karnataka as an exemplum. Needless to say, things have not worked according to plan, and Yeddy spent time fighting the Reddy brothers, fending off corruption charges, and quelling internal skirmishes in the party. At other times, he was busy fighting the Opposition: all this left him with little time to focus on developments in the state. Although it would be unfair to say that Yeddy has done no good at all, he has utterly failed to live up to expectations. Just as the credibility of the UPA government is under a cloud, the Karnataka government's credibility is also at an all-time low. With the man who established the first saffron government in South India in judicial custody, Advani, who reaches Karnataka later this month, will have many questions to answer, the greatest one being: will Karnataka vote for the BJP again, 16 months from now? If not BJP, then who? Maybe Anna Hazare can offer some answers.